Imagine. You drive into Horseshoe Bay, join the queue, and then turn off your engine. You are off on a great adventure. You get out of your vehicle and take a little stroll while you wait. You pass a mother with her child. You hear the child exclaim, “But Mom, you said we were going to see a fairy. All I see is a big boat.” You chuckle to yourself as you continue on. Time passes quickly and the next thing you know, you’re boarding that big boat. You cover your ears as the horn blasts loudly. The boat leaves the terminal. It meanders its way along the coast, through the islands and across the straight. You pass numerous abodes: large houses, estates, mansions, little cottages, cabins and make-shift shelters. They dot the hills and cliffs. You wonder about the people who live there, where they work, what they do, who they are, these people who are so tied to the water, so exposed to the elements. Water, water, water, water, water. Wind. The ferry approaches the other side. We are now nearing the Nanaimo terminal. You patiently wait to be signaled off. You disembark. You drive through the town and head north on the Island Highway. You continue along following the pack of cars that came before you. Slowly they disperse along the way. Just north of Parksville, you take the Highway 4 exit towards Port Alberni. You drive along the narrow, winding, twisty highway across the island.
You take in the views of snow capped mountains and rushing streams as you traverse the passes. You travel through dense forests where the trees loom high overhead obstructing the few rays of autumn sunshine fighting to get through. You pull over into a small parking lot alongside the highway. This is Cathedral grove.
You get out of your vehicle and stare in awe at these ancient towering giants some of which are 800 plus years old. The huge branches stretch out above draped majestically with moss. The largest tree in this particular grove has a circumference of 9 metres and stands a proud 76 metres high. It was once much taller, but its top snapped off in a horrific windstorm in 1997. It is still, however, a sight to behold. The air seems denser, thicker, moister. Your breathing is as slow and calm as the zephyr which gently moves through the trees. You listen to the forest speak. You take in its noises, you breathe its peace. You are transported to a place where time doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter. After thoughtful meditation, you decide to continue on to your final destination. You pull out of the parking lot and onto the winding highway a much calmer you. You continue along towards BC’s rugged west coast. Before you even get there, you can almost smell the salt in the air. You finally have it…your first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
You pull into the famed Long Beach with its miles of pristine sand. You rush from your vehicle and head straight for the crashing waves. You follow the thundering roar of the surf and disappear into the sheets of ocean mist. You spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the coves and beach, checking out the tidal pools, watching a few brave surfers ride the giant curling waves, following the shore birds, mesmerized by it all. You end it all with a glorious west coast sunset.